Trudeau takes aim at Bell Canada cuts; local journalism fund still in the air

    Monday, 12 February 2024 05:50

    By Kody Gardner

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with reporters in Toronto on Friday.

    Trudeau called Bell Media's decision "garbage" during a press conference on Friday in Toronto.

    It's another hit to local journalism in communities across Canada as Bell Media, owner of stations like CTV, announced widespread layoffs and the cancellation of news programs across all platforms Thursday.

    In an internal memo to employees, the company announced it is slashing multiple TV newscasts and making programming cuts following widespread layoffs and the sale of 45 of its 103 regional radio stations in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. 

    The company also announced a nine percent workforce reduction across all divisions, affecting some 4,800 jobs across the company. The layoffs mark the second major round since last spring, with six percent of Bell Media jobs cut previously.

    At a news conference on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had harsh words for Bell:

    “I'm furious. This is a garbage decision by a corporation that should know better. We've seen over the past years, journalistic outlets, radio stations, small community newspapers bought up by corporate entities who then lay off journalists, change the offering, the quality of offering to people, and then when people don't watch as much or engage as much, the corporate entity says, oh, see, they're not profitable anymore. We're going to sell them off. This is the erosion, not just of journalism, of quality local journalism at a time where people need it more than ever given misinformation”.

    Meanwhile, the federal government still hasn’t renewed their commitment to the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), which funds community-based journalists across the country, including at BayFM. If the program isn’t renewed by March 31, hundreds of journalists will be off the job, according to statistics from Heritage Canada. Most of those journalists work in underserved communities across the country.




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